Every month, during a time commonly referred to as your period, your uterine lining sheds. Along with bleeding that lasts between 3 and 7 days, menstrual cramps, mood swings, and cravings are familiar foes.
Let's not forget the general feeling that everything is falling apart. If you're in a long-term relationship, you know that sometimes, it can feel like your connection is hanging on by a thread!
Maybe you've noticed that your boyfriend behaves a little strangely around this time, too, and you might wonder whether your period can affect your boyfriend.
Things to know
- If your boyfriend is behaving differently on your period it's likely just a response to the stress of you being in pain or distress.
- Your boyfriend may be experiencing emotional contagion, which is essentially mirroring someone else's mood.
- There's no proof of men being biologically affected by their partner's menstrual cycle.
Here's what we'll be looking at:
- Can My Boyfriend Feel My Period Pain?
- Can My Period Have An Effect On My Boyfriend?
- Why Am I So Mean To My Boyfriend On My Period?
- How Can I Prevent My Period From Ruining My Relationship?
- Be Mindful Of His Struggles Too
Unfortunately, as women, we're expected to carry on as normal when we're experiencing a period.
Can My Boyfriend Feel My Period Pain?
As your boyfriend doesn't have ovaries, he won't experience a menstrual cycle. So he definitely can't experience period pain. If he insists that he does, he might be experiencing psychosomatic symptoms that mimic your menstrual cycle.
Based on increasing evidence for Couvade syndrome, sympathetic pain isn't unheard of. Couvade syndrome is a psychological condition in which a man experiences the symptoms of pregnancy right along with his partner.
However, there's not enough scientific evidence to support that this can happen during the menstrual period too.
Can My Period Have An Effect On My Boyfriend?
Although your period might not affect your boyfriend biologically, being around you could influence him psychologically. So while it may look like your boyfriend is in the trenches PMSing with you, his mood swings may be a stress response to you being on your period. He might also experience:
When you’re bleeding for seven days and trying to keep it all together, someone else’s needs might not be high on your priority list. Your boyfriend might feel neglected emotionally and sexually.
Sexual intercourse at that time of the month is still pretty taboo. Not to mention, most women don't feel confident enough to initiate sexual activity of any kind during their monthly period.
If you haven't talked about it, you might want to discuss how you feel about period sex. If it's something that you're both interested in trying, remember to be safe about it. If you have unprotected sex, there's still a slight risk of pregnancy. It all depends on whether you have an irregular or regular cycle.
Emotional contagion is the psychological phenomenon of taking on someone else's emotional state. Science already confirms that we unconsciously mirror the behavior of those we like. This happens on a largely unconscious level and helps us establish a solid emotional connection.
Because you experience many negative emotions during your period, you might be irritable, overly sensitive, or combative. These feelings are likely to manifest as defensive or closed-off body language.
Your vocal tone might be harsh, your facial expressions might communicate contempt, and your general demeanor might be unpleasant. Without realizing it, your boyfriend could be mirroring your behavior. Needless to say, this can result in plenty of hostile interactions between you.
If your boyfriend has to ‘pick up your slack’ or do things he usually wouldn't have to do when you're on your period, he might start to feel resentful —especially if he doesn't understand the gravity of what you're experiencing.
Unfortunately, as women, we're expected to carry on as normal when we're experiencing a period. It doesn't help that for the longest time, our symptoms and struggles have been invalidated. It's not uncommon for men to think we're intentionally mean or 'lazy' during our cycles.
If your boyfriend is being dismissive, he might not fully understand what's going on with your body. He might also be a victim of social conditioning. It might be time to have a serious talk with him. You could also point him to some online resources that will help him understand exactly what you go through every month.
Why Am I So Mean To My Boyfriend On My Period?
Here’s why you’re so mean to your boyfriend on your period:
Your body operates on a 28-day cycle made up of four phases. Your period is one part of this complex hormonal cycle. As you experience hormonal changes throughout the month, your energy levels, sex drive, and your metabolism fluctuate in response.
Your hormones even affect your brain. You might have a razor-sharp focus in one phase and experience lethargy or brain fogginess in another. You might be a sweetheart in one phase and your boyfriend’s biggest nightmare in another.
Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period. During this time, your hormone levels are at their lowest. As you experience a drop in estrogen and progesterone levels, you’re left feeling moody, tired, emotional, and anxious.
Low hormone levels can trigger menstrual headaches and migraines. You are also more susceptible to other types of pain. When your stress levels rise in response to all these emotional and physical changes, you become more irritable.
As your period ends, your estrogen levels increase, making you crave more physical contact. This is because oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is stimulated when estrogen is high. The love you feel for your boyfriend might grow stronger during this phase, making it the best time to connect with him.
As your hormone levels continue to rise, things only get better. You’re more energized and outgoing. Your sex drive increases, too, so you might find it challenging to keep your hands off your boyfriend. Your hormone levels keep rising until they peak around ovulation.
If you don’t fall pregnant around this time, your hormone levels start to drop, leaving you feeling drained and irritated— ‘mean’ you is back in the building. Unfortunately, so are approximately 150 symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS that you may or may not experience.
Before you know it, you’re bloated, desperately craving carbs, and flying off the handle about your boyfriend finishing all your favorite snacks. Your hormone levels crash to their lowest, and you get your period, sparking the beginning of a new cycle.
Premenstrual disorders (PMDs)
Up to 90% of women experience emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms before their period, and 40% experience moderately distressing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Additionally, 5% of women experience severely distressing symptoms or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Together, PMS and PMDD are classified as premenstrual disorders or PMDs. The most common symptoms are:
- Mood swings
- General body aches
- Concentration difficulties
Hormonal fluctuations are possible causes of PMDs. Your body's reaction to these hormone levels, and the severity of your symptoms, are all determined by genetics and stress. PMDs tend to cause major disruptions and affect your quality of life. With so much to deal with mentally, physically, and emotionally, it’s understandable that you would be ‘meaner.’
In fact, a study revealed that women were less satisfied with their relationships just before and during their period. Consequently, men also reported feeling less happy in their relationships during this time. Unfortunately, the more severe PMD symptoms are, the greater the negative effect on a relationship.
How Can I Prevent My Period From Ruining My Relationship?
Be honest about what's going on
If your period brings tension every month, you and your boyfriend might experience challenges in how you relate to each other. It's essential to explain what's going on with your body in plain, simple terms. Instead of simply saying you have bad PMS, describe some of your symptoms.
Tell him that you tend to feel sad and hopeless. Let him know that your mood fluctuates because of your hormones. Make him aware of the severity of your physical symptoms too. Doing so will allow you to manage the impact of your period on your relationship.
Avoid triggering conversations
PMDs and menstrual symptoms can make you see or look for relationship problems that aren't there. You might blow things out of proportion and say hurtful things you don’t mean.
With this in mind, avoid bringing up sensitive topics or engaging in potentially charged conversations. If you want to bring up legitimate concerns, save it for when you're in a better frame of mind.
Tell him what you need
Your boyfriend may not know that you'd just like him to hold you or massage your back. He might not understand that you just want to snuggle up with your favorite book and a heat pack. Make things easier for him. Whether it's space or a shoulder to lean on, be open about your needs. Knowing exactly what to do is likely to ease his stress levels.
Seek professional help
If you and your boyfriend are finding it difficult to cope, consider reaching out to a therapist for CBT couple’s therapy. Studies show that couples who receive cognitive behavioral therapy together experience fewer relationship difficulties.
If your period is causing you serious distress, visit a women's health clinic or speak to your doctor about the different treatment options available. Consider making a few lifestyle changes to reduce your stress levels.
Track your cycle
Take the guesswork out of managing your symptoms by tracking your cycle. That way, you'll know why you're suddenly experiencing negative feelings. You'll also be able to understand your body better and find different ways to cope. Be sure to keep your boyfriend in the loop too. He'll appreciate the heads-up.
Be Mindful Of His Struggles Too
Your boyfriend has his fair share of worries, struggles, and stressors. Remember to be there for him too. Support him whenever you can by taking advantage of the weeks when you're not on your period or experiencing PMS. No matter what stage of your monthly cycle you're in, you should both practice thoughtful communication and kindness.